Glossary of language service terms


In Australia, accreditation is a credential awarded by the National Accreditation Authority for Translators and  Interpreters (NAATI) to people who have demonstrated a certain level of ability to interpret or translate, and an  understanding of socio-cultural and ethical issues.


AUSIT is the Australian Institute of Interpreters & Translators, an independent association that aims to promote the highest standards in the translating and interpreting business.

Back translation

A translation of a translation.


Culturally and Linguistically Diverse, it refers to people from different countries, races and ethnicities, who speak different languages and follow various religious, political and philosophical beliefs.

Certified translator

A translator who has received certification from a professional association.

Cultural adaptation

Adapting translations to the cultural environment of the target language to make it suitable for the target audience.

Desktop Publishing (DTP)

Adapting translations to the cultural environment of the target language to make it suitable for the target audience.


A particular form of a language that is peculiar to a specific region or social group.

Easy English

A way of writing used to give information to people who have difficulty reading, writing or understanding words.


The process of getting a rough idea of a translation.


The process of designing, developing and adapting a product for distribution in multiple countries.


An interpreter is a professionally qualified person who takes information from one language and converts it accurately and objectively into another language orally. The interpreter’s role is to ensure communication between parties is as clear as possible. 

Interpreting (consecutive)

The process of orally translating speech into another language, after the speaker speaks. The interpreter listens and takes notes while the speaker talks and then delivers the interpretation while the speaker is silent.

Interpreting (simultaneous)

The process of translating speech orally into another language at the same time and at the same rate of speech as the speaker.

Interpreting (telephone)

Telephone interpreting is a service that allows parties who speak different languages to communicate with each other. This is done via a three-way conference phone call. 

False friends (faux amis) 

Words in two languages (or letters in two alphabets) that look and/or sound similar, but differ in meaning.


The method of human communication, either spoken or written, consisting of the use of words in a structured way.

Language, right to left

Languages such as Arabic, Hebrew, Farsi and Urdu.

Language services

Language services are the vehicle for communicating with people who speak little or no English. They consist of working with accredited interpreters, provision of translated materials and employing bilingual staff.

Literal translation

Translation that closely adheres to the wording and construction of the source text. A literal translation usually reads unnaturally and is also known as word-for-word or verbatim translation. 


A word taken from one language and used in another with virtually no translation.


The process of translating to fit the target market.

Machine translation

The translation produced by a computer program.


NAATI is the National Accreditation Authority for Translators and Interpreters – an examination and accreditation body for interpreters and translators in Australia.


Non-English Speaking Background (NESB) refers to individuals whose first language is a language other than English. 

Plain English

A form of English that is clear, concise and direct.

Sight translation

Translation of a written document into spoken/signed language.

Source language

The language in which text to be translated is originally written.

Source text

The text to be translated.

Target audience

The group of people for which a text is translated.

Target language

Language into which a text is to be translated.

Target text

The translated text.


The adaptation of a creative work into another language or culture.


Process of converting voice into a written format.


Translation is the transfer of one written language into another written language without changing the meaning, register or nuances of the source language and without additions or omissions.


A professionally qualified person who takes written information and converts it accurately and objectively into another written language to enable communication between two parties who use different languages.


The process of representing the phonemes and morphemes of one language into those of another language via an encoding system that is acceptable to the users of the target language (e.g. Arabic into English).


The process of placing and arranging text on a page with the aim of making the document more attractive and easier to read.


A character encoding standard capable of encoding the characters of the world’s major language scripts. It is designed to be a universal character set.

Whispering interpreting

Simultaneous interpreting where the interpreter sits close to a participant and whispers the interpretation into his or her ear.

Word count

The number of words in a document used to determine job pricing.